Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart answers, and the real deal:
Question: Buncombe County schools have begun posting their system shutdown alerts in five languages, including Romanian and Ukrainian. How many families or children in the system speak English as a second language? And have they seen a change in the ESL population in recent years?
My answer: At this point, don’t we all assume schools are closed if a snowflake falls somewhere in the Western Hemisphere?
True answer: “Our students speak more than 55 languages at home,” said Ginny Barrett, director of federal programs at BCS. “Our main languages are Spanish, Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and Romanian. This year, thanks to the improvement of our means of communicating weather messages, we are now able to share important weather information in these main languages.
The school system regularly uses interpreters and “our schools provide information to parents in several languages”.
“We know that increased communication between families and schools will result in better student success,” Barrett said.
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Now, when it comes to the number of children who speak English as a second language, it gets a little complicated. First, Barrett provided several categories that they use to denote different levels of language use or proficiency:
• EL — English learner. EL students are in the process of acquiring the English language, so they receive services from ESL teachers to help them access the program and learn English.
• Non-LEP — unlimited English proficiency. These are students who have another language at home but who do not receive services from the department. This is because they entered the school with English proficiency or left the program.
• Invigilated — This term is used if students left the program after passing the annual ACCESS 2.0 exam. They are followed for four years.
• Legacy EL — Term used if students left the ESL program more than five years ago.
• Never ID — Term used for students who have never been placed in the program but have another language at home.
“As you can see, we have a nuanced system that ensures students, regardless of their English proficiency, have personalized options to access our program,” Barrett said.
Alright, now let’s get to the numbers, by school year:
Old EL: 883
Never ID: 741
Former EL 1267
Never ID: 746
Monitored and former EL: 605
Never ID: 731
Question: It was recently reported that China, which was the biggest importer of recycling from other countries, has decided to stop importing it. How might this development affect Asheville’s recycling program?
My answer: You mean Asheville’s new 600-foot-tall (and growing) “Tower of Plastics and Aluminum” sculpture? Uh, not at all. We are an artistic city, after all.
True answer: China indeed announced last year that it “no longer wants to be the ‘dumpster of the world,’ recycling about half of the planet’s plastic and paper products,” according to a recent New York Times article. The ban went into effect on January 1, and it has left many Western countries “baffled about what to do”, The Times reported.
Here in Asheville, Curbside Management in Woodfin is the area’s leading recycler, with contracts to pick up recyclables in Asheville, Woodfin, Weaverville and Fletcher, as well as process imported materials from Buncombe County and others.
Co-owner Nancy Lawson said late last week that she had yet to see any effect from the ban. A few years ago, China reduced the amount of plastic and paper it accepted, which caused Curbside, called “Curbie”, to make some adjustments.
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“We always try to have more than one end user for all of our products, just to protect ourselves,” Lawson said. “We are constantly looking for new markets to place materials in. When an end user dries up, there is usually another user we can send items to.”
With China’s ban being relatively new, Curbie has yet to see any changes.
“There are times when we have to stop accepting an item, but at this time we are not changing what can be accepted in recyclable materials,” Lawson said.
This is the opinion of John Boyle. Contact him at 232-5847 or [email protected]